CVC Artelan Rioja

After five different bottles from Bodega Badiola, all of them delicious and beautifully made, it’s time to try the last available. A blend of two different vintages which the label says was a common decision in times long gone. I googled to see which vintages and thought I saw a reference to 2017 and 2018. Tried checking but nothing pops up, maybe I imagined it? Details aside, this Conjunto de Varias Consechas appears to be another clean and nicely understated expression of just so Alavesa Tempranillo. A little rounder than the 2018 white label, rich but in no way jammy strawberry and cherry fruit fits neatly into an even flow of mouthwatering acidity mingling seamlessly with fine crisp tannin. Savoury notes of spice and chalky earth. Gentle but satisfying. Softly voiced but speaks a clear authenticity. Of all the value imports on Dan’s heterogeneous shelves, Badiola and Mommessin stand out for consistent quality. Hope there’s some new vintages to explore next month as I think I’ve exhausted the current options. Always cheered by new shiny things to buy. Silly really.

14% alcohol. Diam. $19.

91 points.

2019 Tasca d’Almerita Tenuta Regaleali Lamùri Nero d’Avola Sicilia DOC

From a Sicilian family estate traditionally spacious in the possession of dirt and a first review of Nero d’Avola hereabouts. Fresh cherry red and cherry flavours to match. Tang of cherry juice and a sweetness of dried cherry too. Light dusting of spice. A fragrant overlay of dried herbs, sage and almost oregano, appropriate for Sicily. Touch of clove and dusty wood. Only just ripe enough with a pucker of perky acidity and fresh tea tannin. The data sheet says 20% new oak but it’s not imposing as it wafts in and out and tickles the tannins as it closes. Bright and cheerful the first day. Perhaps my palate wobbled the second day or the fruit is a touch under ripe and green as there’s a lurking bitter end. Bit of sulphide or green, not sure. Could be just failing faculties as I thought it tasty at first.

13.5% alcohol. Nomacorc. $24 Dan’s member’s special.

91 points day one, 87 day two or palate aberration? Probably not on the list to buy again, so I may never know.

This isn’t turning out to be the most inspiring monthly Dan’s six imports. A longtime interest in things Portuguese and a not exactly overwhelming choice at Dan’s meant another look at the Coutada Velha Signature from the Monte da Ravasqueira estate. Must admit to trying the 2019 version which didn’t excite enough to heartily recommend. Too much in the ripe unctuous style for me. No doubt others would enjoy the rich fruit more. The 2020 has appeared on the shelves. Running out of new options, I reckoned it worth a look as the Alentejo can be a happy place for bright, rich and good value wine. Quite developed for its age, sweet dried berries, orange skin oil, soy and dashi savoury to season. Quite old school Australian in shape with a burst of up the front fruit that tapers to a tangy end that sits a little outside the flavours. Second day, there’s a bit of lift and some of that Iberian rocky cut emerges. A blend of Aragonez or Tempranillo, Trincadeira and Touriga Nacional. Google research, is there any other sort, suggests there’s an Australian chief winemaker at Ravasqueira. I remember reading about David Baverstock overhauling old dirty winery practices in the early 1990s in the Alentejo. Still going strong it seems with bottles of wide appeal. At the price they make a strong claim.

13.5% alcohol. Diam. $18.10 in a six.

89 solid points.

Well, that wasn’t the best six from Dan’s. The last bottle a 2018 Frescobaldi Nipozanno Chianti Rufina Riserva was very disappointing, especially as their Montesodi bottling has been amongst my best Tuscans ever. Opened smelling of horse farts and got worse. Clean your barrels you wealthy Frescobaldi aristocrats, you can afford it.

13.5% alcohol and you’d be desperate. Diam. $32 member’s special.

No score, thought I’d offer a view to help avoidance.

2018 Bodega Badiola Artelan Rioja

Another month and another six random import bottles from Dan Murphy’s chosen on the basis of a bit of prior knowledge and member’s special prices. Must admit to gazing at this bottle on the shelves for a while but have shied away as basic supermarket Rioja can be a little too engineered with American oak and extraction for my precious taste. I should have got my glasses out and looked at the back label to see it’s made by Badiola whose more expensive bottles have been exemplary in terms of gently expressive winemaking, see previous reviews, particularly the blancos. This stays true to the model. Just medium bodied, perfumed strawberries, toffee and chalky length. Some would say cola? Not having indulged in a cola drink for years, I suppose my strawberry and toffee is close to the US’s gift to the world. Light touch in the making again. Gentle infusion compresses those clean, precise flavours well into an end of refreshing ripe acidity and ripe tannin of silky poise. Cool fruit from up on the Alavesa and Rioja of character not caricature. There’s a black label version of two vintages blended, I’m in.

13% alcohol. Diam. $18.10 in a six.

91 points but so elegant as Iggy would say.

Well, the Rioja was good but the squat bottle of 2019 Tinazzi Ca’ de’ Rocchi Valpolicella pictured in the six was very much less so. Opened with a reductive pong that cleared to a washy lift of spearmint and vague red berries sprinkled with a sort of cooked brown sugar coating. Fades quickly into some unappealing green acidity. Left a day and not much improved. Most of the bottle ended up cleaning the plug hole. Looking at Tinazzi’s glamorous website, they say the Ca’ de’ Rocchi range is made for those not used to the sharpness of traditional Valpol, the tech sheet says it’s got nearly 5 grams of RS. Don’t think Quintarelli or Allegrini ever needed make up to make their stuff drinkable?

13% alcohol. Diam in a very narrow necked bottle, struggle to remove, impossible to put back in. $23 down the drain.

85 points but subjectively less.

At the end of the last century, Potensac was a reliable and good value taste of Bordeaux as prices were starting to rise dramatically. Now it has a second wine it seems. So a 2017 Chapelle de Potensac which was $30 on special, down from $40. Oh well, Domaines Delon have a good portfolio it seems from the back label, so I decided to risk a Bordeaux from what seems an uneven vintage. Mostly Merlot for immediacy perhaps? Reductive with a smell like those old cap guns us kids in sixties UK used to shoot each other. They’re probably as rare as good value Bordeaux these days. Nice shape to the wine in terms of gentle just OK acidity and fine gravel tannin. The flavours dilute with cooked red berry and mulberry flickering in and out. Sweet green herb and leaf. Finally a small nudge of the sort of earthy richness that I’ve enjoyed in a limited experience of more celebrated Bordeaux. Oh well, I enjoyed the Rioja so much more and it’s much cheaper. This is so careful and polished as to be anodyne. At least there was enough to make it through the bottle. Anodyne can mean boring, dull or insipid or pain numbing. At least a few glasses were anodyne in the sense of taking off the edge off spending $30.

13% alcohol. Diam again. $30 on special.

90 points, maybe in a blind line up 88, it’s a classic label and I’m a snob at heart.

2010 Ca’ Rome Maria di Brün Barbaresco

Having opened a leaden, malty and hulking 2010 Barolo recently and read alarming reports of disappointments with the vintage, thought it time to see if money and patience had been wasted, a familiar sensation to Burgundy fiends especially. Seems this is named for the winemaker’s mum and comes from a special bit of the special Rabaja cru planted to the Michet clone. Important info thanks to importers Trembath and Taylor and their detailed website. The first small pour wasn’t encouraging, looking a bit rusty and tired but air brought a sense of relief as the colour brightened and darkened, if that makes sense? Black cherry, deep tarry earth flavours and a flicker of juicy red fruit to bring a twinkle of chiara to the profound scuro. More air and interminable swirling bring liquorice root and fennel to saturate the retro nasal canyons, intense. Ripe acidity sluices it all through the mouth. The tannins, and what tannins, throb and build and take no prisoners. Brilliant but don’t think it’s possible for wine to be any more positively tannic. Couldn’t imagine trying to drink this without something full of protein and fat to eat. Monumental antioxidant Nebbiolo. Seems there’s another in the cellar to wrestle should bottle variation and cork be kind.

14% alcohol. Cork. Was possibly about $100 or so of recklessly optimistic spending.

95 points and no arguing with those tannins.

2017 Tyrrell’s Pokolbin Hunter Valley Semillon

Thanks to some high praise on Winefront and a memorable glass of 2013 Tyrrell’s Belford from the Sydney Opera House Bar, a spectacular place for a drink on a summer evening, I’ve been slowly building up a stash of a few bottles. Like good Riesling, Hunter Semillon doesn’t seem as sought out as some on Langton’s auction site. Three bottles of this for $17 each seemed a good buy. Only way to find out was to open one of them. Sweet green herbs, baby green peas and nettles. Hint of beeswax. Lemon rind oils and brisk citrus add fruit sweetness. There’s also an intriguing smell of something like dusty roads just as it starts to rain, petrichor anyone? In texture, a rainwater like softness on ripe but very mouthwatering acidity. Not the fruit power of Belford or HVD but so easy to drink. Roll on summer.

11% alcohol. Screw cap. $17 at auction.

91 shy points.

2021 Wynns Coonawarra Estate Cabernet Franc x Cabernet Sauvignon Reframed

Despite TWE’s marketing department thinking a psychedelic paint factory explosion will be an improvement on a proven brand label, it’s the contents of the bottle that’s thankfully true to such good a winery. Not sure what the x means either, other than Franc is the parent of Sauvignon, thus some form of multiplication? Fashion, what’s old is new again as the idea that lower ripeness, less oak flavour and extraction seems oddly like Wynns reds were in the eighties. Nice to be back where we started apart from a bit of whole berry ferment maybe? Leaps out of the glass and straight into the olfactories with loads of leaf, raspberry and darker blackcurrant. Despite plenty of clean flavour in the weight of warm fruit, there’s a flash of savoury sweet leaf that triggers memories of the Loire. Just to remind us where it’s really from, the finish does have a cuddly, sweet earth, Coonawarra claret dimension. The acidity has a little tang but the tannins are ripe and satisfying. Good to see less artifice and more refreshment. Does the brand need yet another range? Not sure TWE know how to get the message to us?

12.9% alcohol. Screw cap. $20 at best. Dan’s $24, discounting awaited.

91 points.

2010 The Story Temperance Grampians Shiraz

The second Shiraz from the cellar for a comparison to the 2013 Pannell Jimmy Watson winner, see previous post. And another in the whole bunch, new but ancient way of making. Starts out looking much more stem influenced than the Pannell with scents of tobacco, woody herbs and some older wine leather. Must say the stems seem brown and woody rather than green and sappy. Oxygen works its changes and freshens up fruit flavours of somewhere between raspberries and blackberries, loganberry? A sweet green herb pesto underneath the bright swell of rich berries. Touch saline and savoury with age to end but the chunkiness of Grampians Shiraz still stands firm. Structure being as important as flavour in wine, once again The Story scores well with a twist of ripe skin and stem tannin and comfortable acidity to leave space for another sip. Not exactly articulate but yum.

13.5% alcohol, some sort of temperance compared to Parkerised monsters. Screw cap. $25 ten years ago I think?

93 points.

2013 S C Pannell Adelaide Hills Syrah

The 2014 Jimmy Watson Trophy winner no less and a measure of how the pendulum of Australian Shiraz fashion swung away from muscled ripeness on the limit dressed in coconut and vanilla. My memory could well be failing but perhaps this was on the shelves at King and Godfrey in Carlton before the RM show results were announced? I remember a floor stack priced at something like $26 a bottle which then went up to full RRP of $30. Not exactly profiteering. Time to open one and see if age has wearied it. Not much it seems. A waft of dusty bottle age, then fresh dark berries, spice and tarry earth come bounding from the glass. Rich in fruit held by a glide of velvet tannin. Second day and really up on its toes. Fresher dark berries and bright cherry fruit light up the middle with spice and white pepper. Perfect middle weight. The brown woody stems fit seamlessly into the settled acidity. All good things folded into each other. So neat and tidy but delicious. Syrah or Shiraz notwithstanding, it’s still one of the best new wave efforts to find its way into my glass. Glad I bought a couple.

14% alcohol. Screw cap. $26 if memory serves.

Started 93 points but rose to 94 and then 95 perhaps.